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Saturday May 18th 2024

Saltburn | 2023

Saltburn film location: Drayton House, Northamptonshire
Saltburn film location: Drayton House, Northamptonshire | Photograph: Wikimedia / John Sutton

Emerald Fennell's wickedly dark comedy upends the traditional British country house drama so it's fitting that the stately mansion of 'Saltburn' is not one of the screen regulars but a very private home that's not appeared on-screen before.

One of the conditions of filming was that the location would not be revealed, but thanking the family who lives there in the end credits sort of gave the game away.

First, the disappointing bit. As you might have guessed by now, the house is not open to the public, so no guided tours and no gift shop selling Sophie Ellis-Bextor CDs or bottled bathwater.

It's Drayton House near the village of Lowick, about 12 miles east of Kettering in Northamptonshire.

If you want to take a look at the exterior, there's a Line 16 bus several times a day from Kettering to Nene View, which is about a mile south of Lowick. The house stands in the heart of a 200-acre estate called Drayton Park, but a there is a public right of way running from Lowick past its entrance, a walk of another mile.

Drayton has been home to the same family for centuries. If you'd taken a shine to it and you’ve started scanning Northants estate agents, you should know that it's not been on the market since 1361.

The house – interior and exterior – is pretty much as seen on screen, including its treasures, but the maze, which plays such an important role, was added – part set, part CGI.

One part of the Catton estate you can visit is that bridge from which the family throws stones bearing the names of deceased members into the river. This can be found on a separate estate, Deene Park, five miles northeast of Corby, also in Northamptonshire.

The estate and Deene Park House itself are open to visitors. The mansion, dating from the 14th century though upgraded during the Tudor and Georgian periods, was home to the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who led the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Apart from the Catton family estate there's Oxford, where the film opens with Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) arriving for his first day at University.

Oxford is inseparable from the University, which is not isolated in its own campus but scattered around the city as 39 individual colleges.

St Albans in Hertfordshire had been considered as a more economic stand-in but the City of Dreaming Spires is so distinctive it would have been crazy not to film there.

Saltburn film location: Radcliffe Camera, Oxford
Saltburn film location: Oliver arrives at Oxford University: Radcliffe Camera, Oxford | Photograph: Shutterstock / Alexey Fedorenko

The opening credits see Oliver walking through Radcliffe Square, past the circular Radcliffe Camera, which you'll recognise as the library where Noodle's Mum works in Wonka.

He's heading to his university college which is Brasenose College. The same entrance, alongside the Camera and with that view of St Mary the Virgin in the background, was previously used as the entrance to the fictitious 'Brompton School, in Barry Levinson’s 1985 Young Sherlock Holmes.

Brasenose itself also provides the 16th century Dining Room where Oliver and the eccentric mathematical genius realise they're the only outsiders.

One of those wonderful old English names, Brasenose comes from the great brass doorknocker ("brazen nose") which once graced the college's entrance. A knocker, which may or may not be the original, now hangs above this Dining Hall's High Table.

Famously forward-thinking, Brasenose was one of the first Oxford colleges to admit women – in 1974. Past students include John Buchan (author of The 39 Steps), Monty Python's Michael Palin and ex-UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

The other Oxford college featured is Magdalen College (pronounced "Maudlen" college if you need to ask directions).

Saltburn film location: Magdalen College, Oxford
Saltburn film location: Felix tells Oliver about the tradition of throwing stones: Magdalen College, Oxford

Magdalen’s Old Library is where Oliver first glimpses Felix (Jacob Elordi), and it's also on the Bridge over the River Cherwell by Magdalen's gates that Felix tells him of the ritual of throwing stones into the river. Remember this picturesque spot from the Merchant-Ivory film of EM Forster’s Howards End, Richard Attenborough’s Shadowlands and the 2008 adaptation of Brideshead Revisited?

One of the the University's most prestigious colleges, Magdalen includes among former students the Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII before he abdicated), CS Lewis (author of the Narnia books) and both Oscar Wilde and his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, known as 'Bosie'.

Oxford is about an hour from London, by train from Paddington Station. If you're visiting, most colleges have a central grassy quadrangle which is often open to the public.

Local limestone gives the city its characteristic appearance, making it a natural for the screen, not least for TV's Inspector Morse series which has launched countless walking tours of the locations.

Apart from the films mentioned, on the big screen you'll also see Oxford in the Harry Potter movies, 1984's Another Country, 1997's The Saint (with Val Kilmer), classic 1988 comedy A Fish Called Wanda, X-Men: First Class (where else would the young Prof Xavier have studied?) and even Michael Cimino's epic Western Heaven's Gate – in which the Sheldonian Theatre and Mansfield College Quad stand in for 'Harvard University'.

Saltburn film location: Launceston Place, Kensington, London W8
Saltburn film location: Oliver bumps into Lady Catton: Launceston Place, Kensington, London W8 | Photograph: Google Maps

There's even a brief glimpse of London toward the end of the film when Oliver unexpectedly bumps into Lady Catton (Rosamund Pike).

Standing opposite the Marie Jose Gallery, this is Launceston Place, a cool restaurant serving modern European cuisine tucked away in Kensington, W8. Although the address is 1a Launceston Place, it's on Victoria Grove at Canning Passage.